Catholic World News

Cardinal Tobin decries populist racism, xenophobia

February 21, 2017

In an address to the US Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements, Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark lamented the “dark clouds gathering” around the United States.

The “concentration of wealth in our country in the hands of a few has created historic levels of economic inequality, which has placed a great burden on working families and the poor,” the prelate said during his talk, delivered in Modesto, California. “This pain cuts across all regions of our country, and across all racial and ethnic groups. This pain is real, and must be engaged, by both pastors and community organizers.”

“Those in power, or those who seek power, begin to demonize excluded groups—people who look, sound, or believe differently from the dominant group,” Cardinal Tobin continued. “This act of misdirection—channeling the anger of anxious people toward ‘the other’ rather than toward the architects of the economy of exclusion—is a classic tactic of a populist leader.”

The prelate added:

[T]he rise of populism and nationalism in the United States has laid bare a second “invisible thread” that, sadly, has promoted the exclusion and marginalization of people in our American experience, intensifying in times of fear and anxiety: the sins of racism and xenophobia. We are urged to place our anger and frustration and fear onto the backs of the scapegoats of our day—immigrants, Muslims, young people of color—and to build walls—border walls and prison walls—that will keep “them” out of “our” communities.

To counter these trends, Cardinal Tobin called for encounter, dialogue, solidarity, and accompaniment.


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  • Posted by: nix898049 - Feb. 22, 2017 2:42 PM ET USA

    Why does this remind me of the scene in 'Gandhi' where the flagpole is shown with no flag when the Indian government takes a wrong path. Would that we had a leader of conscience so respected he could turn people's hearts by refusing to eat. Of course we all know how that story ended.

  • Posted by: skall391825 - Feb. 21, 2017 11:23 PM ET USA

    It's a shame how Pope Francis, his toadies and the Religious Left media have destroyed the people's trust in the Church. Everything must now be weighed as though people were dealing with political speech.

  • Posted by: jalsardl5053 - Feb. 21, 2017 8:54 PM ET USA

    Drank the kool aid - the whole pitcher.

  • Posted by: Jim.K - Feb. 21, 2017 7:33 PM ET USA

    Putting this in a slightly different contex, look how well migration worked out for the Native Americans & Mexicans when "we" immigrated into their lands. Think about the "Indian Lands" from N.Y. to the Pacific as well as most of CA, NV, AZ, NM and TX which were all part of Mexico. "Encounter, dialogue, solidarity & accompaniment" worked out pretty well for "us" but not so well for "them!" What will the Muslims do when they outnumber us or our children? Defense is a legitimate National priority.

  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - Feb. 21, 2017 5:56 PM ET USA

    And when the Pope brings Islamic refugees back, he brings them to Italy and NOT the Vatican.

  • Posted by: unum - Feb. 21, 2017 5:24 PM ET USA

    More to come! The Modesto meeting is a hotbed of radicals, with three bishop that I know of providing political fuel to this political gathering. When our bishops start criticizing the President for his policies for national security, I know they have stopped preaching the word of God and started politicking! They are leaving me behind!

  • Posted by: Frodo1945 - Feb. 21, 2017 11:41 AM ET USA

    "Friends, it is our responsibility to respond to the pain and anxiety of our brothers and sisters: As popular movements, your role is to knit together strong communal networks that can gather up the experiences and suffering and aspirations of the people and push for structural changes that affirm the dignity and value of every child of God." This is exactly what Trump has done. Good analysis Cardinal, but you are blind.

  • Posted by: ILM - Feb. 21, 2017 10:24 AM ET USA

    Where were these dark clouds when 65 million babies were being aborted?

  • Posted by: feedback - Feb. 21, 2017 8:42 AM ET USA

    Isn't it ironic to attend a World Meeting of Popular Movements to criticize... popular movements? And both prison walls and national borders are basic necessities that date to the dawn of human civilization. Walls provide safety when Kumbaya and community organizers fail, which is quite often. Even the Vatican has a wall and a prison.